A New Zealand High Court judge is to be the new head of the official inquiry into child abuse, the Home Secretary, Theresa May, has announced. Justice Lowell Goddard, who has already conducted one inquiry into the police handling of child abuse in New Zealand, said she was well aware of the scale of the “crucial inquiry” that faced her. “The inquiry will be long, challenging and complex,” she said. “The many, many survivors of child sexual abuse, committed over decades, deserve a robust and thorough investigation of the appalling crimes perpetrated on them. It is vitally important that their voices are now being heard.”Goddard, who will arrive in Britain next week when she will face a confirmation hearing before the Commons Home Affairs Committee, said she was committed to “leading a robust and independent inquiry that will act on these matters without fear or favour and will hold those responsible to account”.
Abuse victims have long awaited the establishment of the Inquiry. Our picture below is from the “White Flowers” campaign. Josh Blakely, aged 35, who claims he was a victim of child abuse whilst living in a care home, holds a banner at Old Palace Yard in Westminster during an event organised by the White Flowers Campaign group, in commemoration of victims and survivors of child abuse.
It will be a new statutory inquiry, and not a Royal Commission as some victims had hoped. With a legal status set out under the 2005 Inquiries Act, it will have the power to compel witnesses to give evidence.Justice Goddard will arrive in Britain in the next few days for a ‘pre-appointment hearing’ before MPs on Wednesday. She is the third person to be selected to lead the inquiry after her predecessors stood down over perceived conflicts of interest. Baroness Butler-Sloss quit last year amid questions over the role played by her late brother, Sir Michael Havers, who was Attorney General at the time it was claimed paedophiles were raping and murdering boys near Parliament. Her replacement, Dame Fiona Woolf, resigned over her links to Establishment figures, notably former Home Secretary Leon Brittan. Justice Goddard has the support of victims despite her ex-husband, Sir Walter John Scott, being a member of the British aristocracy. Peter Saunders, of the National Association of People Abused in Childhood, said: ‘I think she is a highly credible and hugely welcome chairman and very appropriate.’
Justice Goddard, 66, was chosen from 150 candidates after officials gave her the all-clear over inflammatory claims on a blog that she had ‘covered up’ alleged misconduct by a judge following an extortion case inNew Zealand in 1994. At the time, she was the country’s Deputy Solicitor General. The website also carried completely unsubstantiated claims that Justice Goddard ‘covered up serious complaints’ while chairman of New Zealand’s Independent Police Conduct Authority.
Justice Goddard is believed to be the first woman of Maori descent to have served as a High Court Judge. Raised and educated in Auckland, she began practicing as a barrister in 1977.She helped to establish the HELP Clinic and police support networks of sexual abuse. She oversaw publication of a report on police handling of child abuse cases as chairwoman of New Zealand’s Independent Police Conduct Authority. Mrs Goddard was elected an independent expert to the UN subcommittee on the prevention of torture.
Her first husband lives in the UK. She is now married to the New Zealand lawyer, Christopher John Hodson QC. Goddard has three stepchildren and a daughter from her first marriage. Her interests are listed as gardening, family and her grandchildren. She also breeds and races horses.
It was a wintry evening yesterday, but there were 13 + 1/2 Tables who turned up to contest our regular Club Night at the Oxshott Bridge Club. You can read all about the evening's play in the Report by clicking on the "Competitions" tab in the Menu to the left of this box. Alternatively you can study the full Leaderboard and the individual Travellers by clicking on the "Latest Result" button at the top right of this page.